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Key Battle Looms for WR's

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Old 08-19-2004, 03:05 PM   #1
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Key Battle Looms for WR's

Washington Post Newsletter

The competition between Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey for the starting quarterback job of the Washington Redskins has been the biggest story so far in training camp.

But the battle for playing time among a host of talented receivers is also shaping up to be a key one.

Laveranues Coles is the firm No. 1, although his nagging toe injury could became a factor in the regular season. Rod Gardner is penciled in as the other starter, although Darnerien McCants performed well in Saturday's preseason game and is coming on strong.

"I think it's hard fought in there," Coach Joe Gibbs said of the receiver position. "That will be one of the real competitive spots on our football team."

James Thrash was signed to be the third receiver, and his work ethic and attitude are loved by the coaches.

Injuries have caused problems for virtually all the receivers. Thrash missed a practice with a hamstring problem but has generally been healthy. Taylor Jacobs, a second round pick in 2003, missed much of the early part of training camp, returned for a few days and then suffered an abdominal strain Tuesday before returning Wednesday.

"Taylor was having an unbelievable camp," Gibbs said. "And then the injury really set him back."

Cliff Russell, a third round pick in 2002 who is fighting Jacobs for one of the final receiver spots on the roster, has barely played in camp due to a hamstring injury and remains out. McCants and Gardner also came down with injuries during a physical practice Tuesday morning. McCants has a sprained knee and ankle and missed Wednesday's practice. Gardner hurt his finger and shoulder but did practice.

Coles was explosive in the last game against Carolina, and is the only receiver to connect with Ramsey to this point, as the incumbent starting quarterback has struggled. Gardner has had a quiet preseason, catching one ball for eight yards, while McCants took advantage of Carolina's second-team defense in the second half Saturday, catching two passes for 78 yards including a beautiful 61-yard touchdown reception from Brunell. McCants leads the team with five catches in the preseason.

"From my second year compared to my third [last season], it wasn't nowhere close," Gardner said. "And this year I'm trying to recapture that and bring it back. . . . I'm trying to get my mind right and focus my mind."

With a new coaching staff in place, there is abundant opportunity to move up and earn more playing time. Gardner wants to improve his game after slipping last season and is expected to start again against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday with Brunell opening the game at quarterback.

Gibbs is known for selecting undrafted free agents for his final roster, and Gari Scott, who played at Michigan State, has been the best of the group of unheralded receivers in camp, making several nice catches and performing well returning kicks against the Panthers last Saturday night.

The first NFL cutdown date is Aug. 31, and Gibbs has hinted that he is looking for durability from his players and a willingness to play through minor injuries. Unless the health of some receivers improves there could be a few surprising releases at that spot by the end of the month.

By Jason La Canfora
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Old 08-19-2004, 03:09 PM   #2
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very good insight
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Old 08-19-2004, 06:26 PM   #3
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well, cliff is gone for sure...
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Old 08-19-2004, 06:29 PM   #4
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yea scott is probably ahead of russel at this point.
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Old 08-19-2004, 07:57 PM   #5
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i bet Scott is definently ahead of russel and jacobs, and both will be cut.
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Old 08-19-2004, 08:42 PM   #6
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I hope Gardner has a break out year, so we can trade him and hopefully get back the our second round pick which we foolishly traded away for Cooley.
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Old 08-19-2004, 08:46 PM   #7
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why not just hope Cooley has a breakout year too then?
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Old 08-19-2004, 09:46 PM   #8
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you watched cooley in the preseason games so far right? I think it was a good tradeoff between have a te like cooley that can block and pass NOW then hoping for a better one next year.

and jacobs impresses when healthy, though he hasn't shown up for a game yet... i doubt he'll get cut though, he's like betts... too much potential to just throw away... but they've both been off the field an awful lot.
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Old 08-19-2004, 09:52 PM   #9
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Is Coles finished for the season or possibly his career?

I heard Coles was seriously injured and if he were to have another operation it could end his career? Did anyone hear about this on ESPN?
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Old 08-19-2004, 09:59 PM   #10
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Gari Scott is the most consistent new receiver we have right know. This will be McCants probowl season if he stays healthy. I always liked James Thrash and always heard how good Cliff Russell was in practice. His workout regimen must be seriouswith that many injuries in practice.
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Old 08-19-2004, 10:14 PM   #11
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No. Can't find that one anywhere... where did you hear it?

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I heard Coles was seriously injured and if he were to have another operation it could end his career? Did anyone hear about this on ESPN?
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Old 08-19-2004, 10:17 PM   #12
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A guy at work who's a big listener to espn radio in the morning mentioned it to me. I hope he's wrong.
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Old 08-19-2004, 11:04 PM   #13
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Sounds like it was Lavar and not Coles.

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I heard Coles was seriously injured and if he were to have another operation it could end his career? Did anyone hear about this on ESPN?
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Old 08-20-2004, 02:23 AM   #14
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I thought that was about the toe injury with Coles which iswhy he oppted not to go for surjury because there was a risk it could have career ending implications.
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Old 08-20-2004, 02:28 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by SUNRA
I heard Coles was seriously injured and if he were to have another operation it could end his career? Did anyone hear about this on ESPN?

how many surguries have coles or lavar had that it could be either oen of them
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